From Mountains to Salmon – Let’s Protect our Wild Spaces!

April 19, 2018
Perhaps the greatest aspect of living in the Pacific Northwest is the majestic, lush, and ecologically diverse wild spaces that surround us. Here at the Oregon Sierra Club, we are motivated by this beauty, especially when this natural beauty continues to be under attack by corporate interests and the federal government. From towering mountains to migrating salmon, we’re fighting for what makes our home great — making sure that wild spaces remain wild and public lands remain public, for generations to come.

In the next few weeks, we are excited to be sponsoring some important (and fun!) educational events in Portland about preserving and protecting the Pacific Northwest. Hope to see you there!

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Tale of Two Rivers

Thursday, April 26, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
The EcoTrust Building (721 NW 9th Ave, Suite 200, Portland)

An evening of conversation about Northwest salmon, orcas, and people, and rivers and dams and lessons learned—with a focus on the Elwha River in western Washington and the lower Snake River in eastern Washington. Featuring three renowned Northwest natural resource reporters Lynda Mapes (Seattle Times); Rocky Barker (Idaho Statesman) and Jeff Renner (formerly of KING5).

A reception proceeding the program will feature appetizers, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. Admission is $10 and tickets are quickly running out – so RSVP today!

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Public Lands Town Hall with Representative Blumenauer

Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 – 8:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM)
KEEN (515 NW 13th Ave, Portland)

Join Congressman Earl Blumenauer (Oregon’s 3rd District) for a Town Hall about the state of our public lands in the current political climate. Come to learn about the various anti-public lands bills in Congress, the on-going efforts to expand protections for public lands, and the current status of Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Free beer and light snacks will be available, as well as ways to get involved with groups fighting to protect our public lands. Learn more about the event and register here.


Volunteer Spotlight: Gregory Monahan

March 29, 2018

Gregory!On any given day, you can find Gregory working in the office on the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) ballot initiative, recruiting and training volunteers as the Oregon Chapter’s Volunteer Coordinator for the campaign. He’s been volunteering with the Chapter for 3 years, and found his way into the environmental movement after being tasked with teaching climate change and sustainability to engineering students at Portland Community College over a decade ago. (Later on, he made those topics a requirement for all students on the engineering track at PCC.)

Upon learning the science behind the impending climate crisis, Gregory diagnosed himself with what he calls the “green blues,” a deep despair for the vast problems plaguing our world, which can only be cured by activism. He’s been non-stop ever since. “I tend to go all in or not at all,” he laughed.

What excites Gregory about PCEF is how clearly the initiative would address the intersection of what he called the four major problems plaguing our country: racism, a broken democracy, income inequality, and climate change. “None of these problems can be solved individually,” he told me. “It will take a system-level, movement-building approach to transition to a just, equitable, and sustainable world.”

The Chapter’s Clean Energy Task Force, of which Gregory is a member of the Steering Committee, became inspired by the concept of a Beloved Community, a term popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. Their vision is to create a Beloved Community of volunteers – where all working on this historic initiative feel welcomed, supported, and valued. (Want to be one of those team members? Learn more and sign up here!)

“Let’s look at climate change this way: We’re on an airplane that we know is going to crash. Look around look at your fellow passengers: there will be people running around screaming and those raiding the cocktail bar. Then there’s the people doing something about it: moving their collective weight to the left and right of the plane so we bellyflop rather than nose dive. And while we’re going down on this plane, moving our weight back and forth, we might as well radically shift the culture we’re in and love each other.

— Gregory Monahan

Fun facts about Gregory

  • He holds a Master’s degree in engineering and a PhD in electromagnetics. He’s held a variety of different jobs throughout his life, including car mechanic, carpenter, electrical engineer, building contractor, private school manager, and engineering instructor at Portland Community College.
  • Soon he’ll be finishing up a 6-month course called Awakening to Whiteness at the Zen Community of Oregon. “If you want to change the world,” he says, “You have to start by changing yourself. I am a 73-year-old white male who has benefited from our culture of a white, male, heterosexual dominated society. I have learned so much about my personal privilege and the undeniable ongoing existence of racism in our present-day culture.”
  • He and his wife Amy have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren – all who live in Portland.
  • “I’m a deacon in the church of early!,” you may hear him say, as he always arrives at least a half hour early to events.
  • As a self-described “JewBu,” or Jewish-Buddhist, his favorite quote is from Rabbi Tarfon, who lived over 2,000 years ago: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.”
  • Gregory’s currently reading: Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions, edited by Denise Fairchild and Al Weinrub and No Time to Spare, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector: Welcome Back to the Wild Wild West!

February 26, 2018

By Ted Gleichman.  First of a Series.

Part One:
What in the Bloody Blue Blazes is Really Going On With the LNG Push?

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Image: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=640516

As we fight the constant brutality of the fossil fuels industry, feeling stuck in perpetual whack-a-cockroach mode, we are confronted with the fact that there is no honor among cannibals.  These exploiters know full well that we are in the throes of climate breakdown, and yet they continue at breakneck speed into the apocalypse.

Fracked gas (and oil) exploitation and export are the second-largest 21st Century energy revolution on the planet — second only to renewables.  Here’s a simplified framing for what we face: Globally, there has never been more turmoil in the present and future of the political economy of energy than there is now.  Locally, the Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP) & Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (PCGP) scheme exemplifies a couple of the reasons why this is happening — and shows how.

As to why:

First, the industry knows that the projects that will be stopped first are those that haven’t started yet.  As the momentum for “Keep It In the Ground” builds, human psychology and standard political operating procedures dictate that — except for traditional emergencies like explosions — shutting down existing fossil fuels infrastructure (FFI) will be hardest and happen last.  So they are getting as much new FFI under construction and putting it into service as fast as they can.  They see this as their best way to protect market share, cash flow, and stock value.

Second, they are cut-throats — not just to front-line communities and the global atmosphere, but to each other.  Again, they know the climate science and they know that stranded assets are coming (see: coal).  They also know that demand for their products will fall — so they need to be the fastest guns in this new Wild West at piling up cash now.

And part of the how:

The Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector (JC/PC) project set is a perfect example.  The last of three proposals for Oregon, and now the only one still alive on the US Lower-48 West Coast, JC/PC has fought with no scruples to market itself both as inherently good and as inevitable.

Both these claims are completely bogus, but the level of desperation within the LNG / fracked gas export industry is so high that this form of vulture capitalism fights dirty by its very nature.  This political / scientific pseudo-wizardry dovetails with the JC/PC efforts to game the federal, state, and local permitting processes to push the new agenda of the Trump regime down our throats here.

“Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain…” {The Wizard of Oz}

No Parking on the Yellow Brick Road-Wizard of Oz-Wikimedia

Photo: Smallbones-Own work, CC0, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18353293

Tomorrow, two subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives (motto: “The Best Gerrymandering Big Money Can Buy”) are holding relevant hearings.  The Energy Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing is “State of the Nation’s Energy Infrastructure.”  Fracked gas and LNG will be part of the package.  Simultaneously, the Energy & Mineral Resources Subcommittee of the Committee on Natural Resources hearing is “Liquefied Natural Gas & U.S. Geopolitics.”

Globally, we need to pay attention as the Republicans in the House work to drive the atmosphere into further paroxysms of overheating and weather distortion.  Simultaneously, locally, we have learned that JC/PC has fallen a bit behind on their plan to have all construction permits in place this year, and now is aiming to be able to begin construction in March 2019.

So this may be a good time to review where we are, around the planet and in Oregon, as part of keeping on keeping on in our struggle for political and energy sanity and the Just Transition.  My hope is that this little series of short blog posts, over the coming weeks, will be useful as we Davids take on (and ultimately defeat!) these Goliaths.

Part of what we will see is that it is crazy out there — and even crazier here in Oregon.  Fracking was invented in Texas, and the West Coast of North America is key to the prospects for Jordan Cove.  So welcome to the new era of the Wild Wild West.

Coming next:

Part Two:
Making Canada Great Again?  Where Would the PCGP Fracked Gas Come From?

Ted Gleichman serves as Policy Director for the Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, and is a member of the National Strategy Team for the Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign. 


Legislative Update: Let’s Get Clean Energy Jobs Legislation Done!

February 26, 2018

We’re now in the back half of the madness that is a short session of the Oregon Legislature. Our primary legislative priority – the Clean Energy Jobs legislation – is still moving, though its path has become a little murkier at the moment. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the Legislature will recognize the need to take climate action now and get this critical legislation passed this year!

The Clean Energy Jobs legislation is actually two different bills – House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 1507. After an amazing Clean Energy Jobs lobby day on February 12 that drew nearly 500 people to the Capitol, both bills passed out of their committees of origin on February 14. The Sierra Club weighed in in support of both bills in their public hearings and also noted that we would like to see the legislation become even stronger. As noted in our testimony, we agree with our equity partners that the bills should be improved to protect our most vulnerable communities.

Our hope was that such improvements to the legislation could be made in the House and Senate Rules committees, where the bills got sent. However, an amendment has been proposed in House Rules which would legislate the emissions cap now, but save much of the rest of the hashing out of the cap-and-invest program for the 2019 session of the Legislature. We believe the Clean Energy Jobs legislation is ready to move in its entirety now and submitted testimony to that effect for the February 22 hearing.

At press time, no action had been taken yet on that amendment, so we are waiting to see what happens next. But as noted in our testimony, the bottom line is that we can wait no longer, and delaying action on a climate bill is not in the best interest of our communities, climate, nation, or planet. Clean Energy Jobs must pass in the 2018 session in the strongest possible form; we’ll continue working to try to make that happen.

And while Clean Energy Jobs has been our major focus in the Legislature, we’ve also been working on a few other issues. Unfortunately, the fairly strong bill to address oil trains in our state (HB 4004) met an untimely demise in committee, though a much more timid attempt to address oil train safety remains alive as part of SB 1518. A bill to prohibit the construction of a bridge in the Deschutes River State Scenic Waterway (HB 4029) passed out of committee and went to Ways and Means. HB 4126 would address the disposal of household hazardous waste and it too is being considered in the Ways and Means committee. That committee also has the Home WRAP bill, HB 4121, which will provide Oregonians with incentives for home weatherization and solar energy installation.

So, with roughly a week and a half left of the 2018 session, much still remains to be done in the waning days of the legislature. We’re hopeful that we can accomplish some victories large and small before the final gavel falls. You can help by contacting your legislators to help push these important bills across the line! Thanks so much for your help, and stay tuned for more details!


Creating the Best Clean Energy Jobs Bill

January 18, 2018

As we gear up for another legislative session, the wheels are already in motion to pass a bill that will create good-paying jobs, reduce greenhouse gases, and promote local renewable energy. The Clean Energy Jobs bill puts Oregon on the cusp of setting a new path for clean energy production that other jurisdictions will be able to follow. But like any major overhaul, the devil is in the details.

Sierra Club has worked for over a decade to reduce the climate impacts of our fossil-fuel-dependent electric utilities. And on one hand, this bill is a huge step in the right direction: it’s a robust policy that caps greenhouse gas emissions, increases the cost of pollution to big businesses, and reinvests that money into communities. The state’s largest polluters will be charged for their dirty business practices with caps on major emissions while business will continue to grow and thrive. The program will increase jobs and drive revenue to clean energy, transportation, healthier communities, and transition funds for workers impacted by climate change or policies. The Clean Energy Jobs bill will also make fossil fuel projects in Oregon more expensive and increasingly less competitive with clean energy, further tipping the scales towards our goal of 100% clean renewable energy.

While there are tremendous benefits to the current bill, we also want to  avoid the mistakes and giveaways that other states have made. For example, without additional safeguards, big polluters could continue spewing dangerous pollutants other than greenhouse gases. These mega-polluters tend to be located near frontline communities, creating concentrated “hotspots” of pollution that disproportionately impact low income people, people of color, and rural and Tribal communities. The Sierra Club believes we can fight climate change without sacrificing public health and we are working to ensure that ALL Oregonians benefit from this legislation

For now, the Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club is working on and watching this bill closely to better understand its impact on both climate change and public health. As a grassroots organization, we’ve appointed a leadership team of smart and dedicated volunteers to meet with with various stakeholders, learn more, and determine our final position.No matter what, the path Oregon chooses on carbon emissions and greener jobs will have tremendous impact. We need your voice to make this the best bill possible. Contact Nakisha Nathan to learn more or volunteer: nakisha.nathan@sierraclub.org, 503-238-0442, x 301.


Mike Brune Cracks the Methane Myth, Hits Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector

January 17, 2018

By Ted Gleichman

How many times have you heard the meme “Natural gas is the bridge to the future”?  We’ve known for years that is not true, but now we can quantify exactly how much ‘natural’ gas — that is, fracked gas or fossil gas — can contribute to solving the climate crisis.  It’s an important number: Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. A Goose Egg. A Shut Out. In fact, a complete myth.  Let’s call this fallacy the Methane Myth, and it is past time to end it.

A top national leader in fighting this obsolete belief for many years now, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune just struck a blow in the national press against Oregon’s own worst, most dangerous, most destructive fossil fuel exploitation project: the scheme to bring fracked gas from Canada and/or the Rockies through Southern Oregon for liquefaction in Coos Bay and export to Asia.

Michael Brune

Mike Brune.  Photo credit: Sierra Club

Brune used his January 12 Huffington Post article to highlight a comprehensive new national report on Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector by Oil Change International (OCI).  OCI is a top national ally to Sierra Club, and focuses on state-of-the-art deep analytical work, “exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the … transition to clean energy.”

Brune created his own brilliant framing on the Methane Myth in a 2013 debate on fracking sponsored by The Economist, when he summed it up: “Natural gas is not a bridge: it’s a gangplank.”  Sierra Club has long been the top eco-group fighting coal, and on Brune’s watch has dramatically expanded its national leadership as one of the key players against oil and gas as well.  Brune, working with leadership from the Member-elected national Board of Directors and with strong support from the seasoned executive team he’s built and strengthened,  and the rapidly-diversifying national and local staff, has also led the Sierra Club into its most innovative and ground-breaking evolution yet: a deep commitment to environmental justice and its growth, social justice and immigration, and the fight against income inequality and for green jobs.

The OCI report on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the proposed Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline & Jordan Cove Energy Project (JC/PC) is the best assessment that has ever been done and is summarized in this press release.  The OCI evaluation of the climate devastation that this Canadian fracked-gas export scheme represents includes three key components:

  • It is comprehensive.  It includes and charts every aspect of fracked-gas extraction, distribution, processing, liquefaction, shipping, and overseas consumption — all based specifically on JC/PC.
  • It is conservative.  OCI used the numbers provided by JC/PC for their own direct in-state emissions, from the JC/PC application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a federal construction license and eminent domain approval, taking them at their legally-binding word.  Then they added in the best peer-reviewed science available for other emissions.  This approach means that the analysis is solid: it cannot be attacked as puffed or overblown.  It is intentionally on the low-end of the damage assessment.
  • It is completely damning.  OCI shows that there is no “climate benefit” whatsoever in mining fossil gas, shipping it across the Pacific, and burning it in Asia.  The Canadian developer’s continued claims that this is good for planet are just another climate-denier distortion in the Methane Myth.
    My simple summary is this:
    There is no fossil fuel solution to the fossil fuel crisis.
    The only solution is to keep it in the ground and build the just transition.

IMPORTANT: Please download this vital report.  And please distribute it and Brune’s analysis of it far and wide!  Generations to come thank you!

Ted Gleichman, Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Team, Oregon Chapter

Ruby Pipeline Clearcut-Klamath County

The end of the Ruby Pipeline near Malin, Oregon, bringing fracked gas from the Rockies to the interstate interconnection point where the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline would begin.
Photo: Ted Gleichman

 


Thirteen Years of Fighting to Stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline

October 27, 2017

By Ted Gleichman

Thirteen years! This week is the 13th anniversary of the brutal fracked-gas export scheme assaulting the families, farms, ranches, woodlands, public lands, rivers, watersheds, mountains, estuaries, and coast of Southern Oregon.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of fighting to stop the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline from slashing a three-foot diameter explosive methane-filled pipeline, 230 miles from the Klamath River basin to Coos Bay. It would rip a clear-cut the size of an Interstate Highway through back yards and national forests; through five rivers and more than 400 streams and wetlands; through our public lands and the fragile homes of dozens of endangered and threatened species; through Indigenous burial grounds and historic and prehistoric archaeological artifacts.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of exposing the greed and insanity of the Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas Export Terminal plan to build on a sand spit right on the fracture line of the largest and most dangerous earthquake and tsunami zone in North America, on the edge of Coos Bay. They are aiming to run massive LNG tankers filled with explosive Canadian methane to Asia – tankers officially classified as “terrorism magnets,” so dangerous that the entire Port must be shut down by the Coast Guard when these monster ships move, disrupting recreational boating, commercial shipping and fisheries, and tourism — and costing jobs.

Thirteen years. Thirteen years of Canadian energy speculators exploiting the Cheney loopholes for fracked-gas pollution, now scheming with the Trump Regime take-over of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to shove eminent domain down the throats of hundreds of Landowners along the pipeline route.

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This has gone on too long. The good news is that together, we can stop it! No matter where you live in Oregon, you can easily link up with neighbors and activists to bring this insanity to a halt. The Sierra Club has developed strong plans, solid legal and economic analysis, and tight alliances with like-minded organizations to stop Pacific Connector and Jordan Cove.

Together, we will stop these pig-headed greedy speculators and work for healthy sustainable change in our society.

Thanks so much!

Ted Gleichman
Policy Advisor, Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign
Member, National Strategy Team, Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign
ted.gleichman@oregon.sierraclub.org